The departing ferry washes my thighs.
Its wake propagates slowly to the shore
Where I sit on a gentle slope of sand
Reclining between chill ocean and grit
Of white crushed shells that whisper with each ebb.
The Rider Waite deck shows the Magician
One hand raised to the sky, the other down,
Pointing to the extremes of our nature,
The mind and body given equal place
And equal merit in a rounded life.
So now between the water and the land,
Skin heated by the air and chilled by brine,
I contemplate my absence from this world.
How will my gap be filled when I am gone?
Who will be hurt? How can I salve their pain?
I spent too long with grief when I was young.
Like a tunnel that drills right through the world
It set me on a path apart. Alone
I thought to honour the dead with my pain.
As though my happiness could offend them.
But Ariel told lies. No alchemy
Transforms us in the grave. Our dead flesh rots
Unless we will it burned. Our bones crumble
Or leech into a rock without magic.
Our minds fade with our last intake of breath.
This is reality. You sitting there.
Me sitting here, wishing you happiness,
As I struggle to find words that will cut
Straight through the pain to tell you not to mourn
Too much, a little will suffice. Live well!
Live better than I did. I felt more joy
When I had finished with my grief than I
Had thought was possible. If time travel
Allowed, then I’d go back and tell myself
What I’m telling you now. The dead don’t care.
No minds survive. Your life is all you have.
When I am gone there’s nothing you can do
To please or disappoint. I’ll never know
Your triumphs or failings. My opinion
Has no meaning. It’s only yours that counts.
Look at me now. Salt on my freckled skin.
Sat naked on a beautiful shoreline.
Exhausted by the swims, and cycle rides,
And playing Tai Chi with the breaking waves.
True to myself. Now you be true to you.
I love you while I live. When my life’s ends
Love yourself fully until yours is done.